Thursday

21st Mar 2019

Restaurants and hotels worried by EU data bill

  • Small business such as hotels oppose the European Parliament's draft data bill (Photo: Biblioteca de Arte / Art Library Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian)

Small businesses such as bed and breakfasts or cafes will have to hire a data protection officer (DPO) under new rules currently being fine-tuned by the European Parliament.

The parliament says any business that has 500 or more clients a year will require a data protection office to make sure data is secured and laws are being followed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) say this is an unwelcome additional expense in an economy where many are struggling.

The European Commission in its impact assessment report estimates that an SME would have to pay around €1,000 extra each year to have someone ensure protocol is met.

The commission had proposed exempting businesses with fewer than 250 employees from having to hire a DPO, but parliament scrapped the exemption and introduced the 500 clients threshold.

“The commission made an exception for SMEs and they had a reason for that,” said Marta Machado, a policy advisor at the Brussels-based Hortrec, an umbrella organisation for hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Europe.

An average SME in Europe has less than 16 employees. Many others have only one person.

German Green Jan Philipp Albrecht, the lead negotiator on the file at the European Parliament, amended the commission’s draft to include any business with at least 500 or more clients or "data subjects."

A data subject is anyone who has their data processed. Reservation dates, names, addresses and credit card details are among the data a hotel uses to process information on its clients.

Keeping those details in check and making sure they are properly secured is among the tasks of a DPO.

But Dora Szentpaly-Kleis, a legal advisor at the Brussels-based European Association of craft, small and medium-sized enterprises (Ueampe), told this website: “Our problem is not that he [Albrecht] changed the approach because it might make sense to link the number to the data subject but we have the impression that the 500 is a very low number.”

“How did they assess this number because there was no interaction on this issue between the rapporteur and us,” says Szentpaly-Kleis.

A parliamentary source familiar with the file said the number "was open to negotiation."

Germany only member state with data protection officers

Germany is the only member state that currently requires a DPO.

For almost 30 years, any company with at least five employees had to hire an outside consultant to review how personal data was handled. The employee threshold was raised to 10 in 2006 after a legislative reform on data protection.

Werner Hulsmann, a Bonn-based data protection officer who has been working as a freelance DPO since 2004, agrees there are some costs to small businesses but risk of a data breach or violation decreases.

The German experience is varied according to company type, size and whether or not it has locations in other countries.

A 2012 survey by the Bonn-based consultancy firm 2B Advice GmbH found that businesses with up to 50 employees spend just over €1,000 per year on a DPO. Cost increases to over €660,000 for companies with more than 50,000 employees.

The survey assessed 375 German companies, including 90 multinationals.

It noted that a large percentage of data violations come from simple negligence like leaving documents in a printer. Unsecured and unencrypted IT was another weakness. The unlawful processing of personal data was less frequently cited as a violation.

The survey also found that over 38 percent of all in-company data privacy officers do not feel sufficiently well informed well informed about data privacy violations within the company.

“It doesn’t matter how many people or employees work on personal data, they have to accept and follow the rules of data protection,” says Hulsmann.

Focus

The Acta debate - will innovation be stifled?

Opponents of Acta, the controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty up for vote in the European Parliament in July, say, among other things, that it would stifle innovation. Advocates say the exact opposite.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  2. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength
  3. May tosses Brexit spanner into EU machinery
  4. Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban
  5. A compromise proposal for the Article 50 extension
  6. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  7. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  8. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  3. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  5. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  6. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us